Metrolink presently has seven lines: running to Altrincham from Cornbrook (Altrincham - Cornbrook Line), from Bury to Droylsden (Bury - Droylsden Line), from East Didsbury to Rochdale Railway Station (East Didsbury to Rochdale Line) from Piccadilly Station to Eccles (Piccadilly - Eccles Line), from Altrincham to Bury, the Altrincham - Bury Line and the Airport Line to Manchester Airport.
There have been extensions of the Metrolink to Ashton-under-Lyne, East Didsbury, Sportcity (the venue for the 2002 Commonwealth Games and now the home stadium of Manchester City FC), the Trafford Centre, and out to Manchester Airport. There are plans for extensions to Oldham, Rochdale and possibly Stockport.
The line to Chorlton-cum-Hardy, also called the South Manchester Line opened in 2011. A South Manchester Line extension to East Didsbury was completed in 2013 with new stations at Withington, Burton Road, West Didsbury, Didsbury Village and East Didsbury.
Also in 2013 the East Manchester Line from Bury to Droylsden extended from Piccadilly to Droylsden with stations at New Islington, Holt Town, Etihad Campus (convenient for the Etihad Stadium), Velopark, Clayton Hall, Edge Lane, Cemetery Road and Droylsden.
After over a decade in planning and construction the first Metrolink line opened in 1992. The driving force behind the system was to link Manchester's two main stations of Piccadilly and Victoria. Within Manchester city centre the Metrolink runs as continental-style street tram, whereas out towards the suburbs it runs on previous heavy rail tracks.
The following stations interchange with the rail system either within the same station or a short walk: Piccadilly, Deansgate-Castlefield, Victoria, Altrincham, Eccles and Navigation Road.
Metrolink tickets are issued from machines at each stop and include, single, return, all day and all weekend tickets as well as season tickets for commuters. Fares are calculated on fare zones travelled through as in the London Underground and are more expensive at peak times. Travelling without a ticket occurs a fine of £100. Presently the cheapest off peak ticket is £0.90. First trains from Piccadilly are at around 6pm with last trains on weekdays from around 11.30pm to just before midnight. Trains run later on Friday and Saturday nights.
The Metrolink is useful for getting to Manchester United's Old Trafford Stadium and the adjacent Lancashire's Old Trafford Cricket Ground, The Lowry, The Imperial War Museum North, and MediaCityUK in Salford Quays. The Metrolink is also handy for King Street, the Arndale Center, Urbis, the Royal Exchange Theatre, the Wheel of Manchester and Manchester Cathedral.
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